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Kayaking is one of the most popular, exhilarating, and adventurous recreational activities that one can partake in these days.
Although it is a popular water sport today, it wasn’t so in the past. It has been around for a very long time, for as many as 4000 years.
Kayaks were initially built and used by the Inuit, Aleut, and Yupik people for the purpose of transportation and hunting.
Back in that time, people built their homes near lakes and waterfronts, which made moving their kayaks into and out of the water easy.
However, in the current age, people usually have to carry their kayaks all the way to recreational sites where this water sport is available.
Hauling a kayak from your home to the destination can be a major challenge as you, for sure, can’t fit a kayak inside your vehicle. This is where the need for kayak roof racks arises.
Kayak roof racks range from basic inflatable types or foamed pads that ensure that your vehicle’s roof doesn’t get damaged due to extensive saddle systems.
If you’re looking for the best car top kayak carriers that will allow you to take your kayak to the waters, you’ve come to the right place.
Continue reading to find out which is the best kayak roof rack for transporting your kayak safe and sound!
Best Kayak Roof Rack Reviews For 2020
Winner: TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier
The J-Bar Rack HD by T-Motorsports is known as one of the best kayak roof racks out there and for the right reasons. Not only is this kayak roof rack durable, but it can accommodate a massive range of kayak sizes.
This kayak roof rack is made from steel, which makes it strong enough to hold even the larger-sized kayaks securely. The strong steel material also makes the rack strong and highly durable.
Along with being incredibly sturdy, the rack is also padded, which means that your kayak and the surface of your vehicle safe will remain free from any scratches or other forms of damage.
The TMS J-Bar can hold kayaks that are up to 36 inches wide and 75 pounds in weight. According to the manufacturer’s claim, this kayak roof rack can be mounted on virtually any type of crossbar that is available in the market!
It comes with universal fitting clamps that let you attach the rack to a wide range of crossbar systems.
Once it has been installed, the J-shape of the rack allows you to load the kayak from the side of your vehicle fairly easily and conveniently.
Moreover, to ensure that you transport your kayak safe and sound to the destination, the rack comes equipped with two loading straps that tie it down securely.
Despite being the best in all its features, one of the major drawbacks of the TMS J-Bar Rack HD is that it comes unassembled.
The user has to assemble each of the components, which, according to numerous kayak roof rack reviews for this product, is quite tricky.
Attempting to line-up each of the holding arms and secure bolts and stiff rubber block at the bottom is a lot of work.
What makes the TMS J-Bar Rack so popular is the fact that even after loading your kayak onto the rack, you’re left with enough space to load your bicycle, snowboard, luggage, and more of your picnic essentials.
This is because the kayak rack keeps the kayak inclined at an angle of 45 degrees that leaves enough space for other stuff to be loaded onto the same rack.
The best thing about this product is, despite being so good, it is available at a highly affordable price!
This kayak roof rack by TMS is the best buy for you if you own a touring or ocean kayak, which is fairly large in size.
Thanks to the strong steel frame and a J-style that can accommodate a large variety of kayak sizes, you won’t have to struggle with loading and unloading your kayak!
Runner Up: CargoLoc Rooftop Cross Bar Set
The CargoLoc Rooftop Cross Bar Set is definitely worth a mention. This aluminum cross bar-style kayak roof rack is the ultimate kayak carrying solution at a highly affordable price.
The aluminum body is stainless and light in weight, which makes it easy to install onto the rooftop of your vehicle.
The best thing about the CargoLoc Rooftop Cross Bar set is that is can be adjusted to fit your kayak easily. The cross bars are fixed onto the side rails on your vehicle’s rooftop.
The rails can be46 inches apart at max and 27 inches minimum, allowing you to carry a small to medium-sized kayak that weighs up to 150 pounds.
What gives this rooftop cross bar set by CargoLoc an edge over others in the category is its easy installation and easy locking and unlocking. The clamps are tightened onto the side rails, ensuring that they aren’t loosened while carrying the load.
One of the major drawbacks of the CargoLoc cross bar set is that it can only be used on rooftops of vehicles that have side rails (like an SUV). Its design involves the attachment of the clamps onto the side rails.
Therefore, it cannot be installed on the rooftop of vehicles that do not have side rails. Also, it produces a whistling sound when you drive at high speeds, which can be quite a distraction.
Moreover, while the cross bars are made of aluminum that does not rust, the lock that is present is prone to rusting.
If you’re wondering whether the cross bars can be secured to the side rails on the rooftop of your vehicle securely enough to carry the weight of your kayak, you’ll be pleased to know that the CargoLoc Cross Bar set comes with a special locking mechanism that ensures this.
Once the bars are secured, you can make sure they stay in place by locking the cross bars in place with the help of a keyed lock!
You read that right. This roof rack comes with a keyed lock. Once you turn the key, you can rest assured that you and your kayak are good to go!
If you’re looking for an easy-on-the-pocket roof rack to carry your kayak to your favorite kayaking spot, this one by CargoLoc is ideal for you, especially if your vehicle has side rails on its rooftop.
Finding a side rails-friendly roof rack can be a challenge, but this, hands down, is the best kayak for SUV or any other vehicle that has factory-installed side rails!
Alternative: Attwood Universal Kayak Car Top Carrier Kit
If you’re looking for a minimalist solution to carry your kayak around, this is it. The Attwood Universal Car Top Carrier kit is just what you need.
This kit by Attwood consists of two foam rubber blocks, S-hooks, and a 20-foot long polypropylene rope.
Unlike other kayak roof racks, the Attwood Car Top carrier involves no technical installation steps and does not require any assembling. This is an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-use carrier kit that you can use to travel with your kayak.
The foam rubber blocks make the base over which you place your kayak. These rubber blocks ensure that the surface of your kayak or vehicle’s rooftop does not get scratched.
As far as the use of this kit is concerned, all you have to do is place the foam rubber blocks on your vehicle’s rooftop, place your kayak on them, and then secure the kayak in place using the S-hooks and ropes.
If you compare it with other kayak roof racks, you’ll find that it’s incredibly straightforward and saves you a lot of effort.
If you don’t secure the ropes tightly, the blocks might just slip from below the kayak when the vehicle starts to go fast.
According to some users, there is a slit on the bottom of each rubber block, which is meant to be used to run a rope across it.
Not doing so might result in the blocks slipping away, which will create scratches on your vehicle’s rooftop and the base of your kayak.
Moreover, placing the blocks too close together in the center might create a depression in the roof. Some users have also reported having to stop the car midway and tightening the ropes to prevent the kayak from falling off the roof.
The Attwood Car Top Carrier kit includes straps with clips and adjustable buckles, which makes way for carrying a wide range of kayak sizes.
Whether you have a small kayak or a large one, you can simply adjust the length of the straps to hold the kayak in place. The clips ensure that the straps are tightly secured and kept in place.
The ropes are made from polypropylene, which is the material that provides them the strength it takes to hold the kayak in place.
If you’re on a lookout for a kayak carrying solution that serves the purpose but isn’t overloaded with unnecessary features, the Attwood Universal Car Top Carrier Kit is what you should get.
It is nothing fancy, and you shouldn’t expect anything out-of-the-box from it. It is just a straightforward, simplistic, and a minimalist carrier solution to make carrying your kayak from place to place a bit less of a hassle for you
Alternative: Car Rack & Carriers Saddle Kayak Carrier
The saddle kayak carrier by Car Rack & Carriers is one of the best horizontal car racks that you will find today.
It consists of multi-pivot, smart saddle carriers made of high-strength rubber that adjusts and conforms to the shape of your kayak. So, no matter what shape or size your kayak is, these rubber saddle carriers are fit to hold it on your car’s rooftop.
Because of their ability to adjust according to the shape and size of the kayak, you don’t have to worry about your over-sized kayak scratching your vehicle’s rooftop.
The feature that adds to the popularity of these saddle racks is the ease of loading and unloading, thanks to their pivoted design.
Unlike other car top kayak carriers, where you’re restricted to loading a particular sized kayak, this isn’t the case with these saddles kayak carriers.
The only obvious drawback of the Car Rack & Carriers Saddle Kayak Carrier is that it is more expensive than most of the kayak roof carriers listed above. It also takes a lot of space on your vehicle’s roof as compared to other kayak roof carriers.
The aerodynamics of the Saddle Kayak Carrier by Car Rack & Carriers is what makes it such a great choice. As the kayak lies flat and close to the roof of your vehicle, the resistance against the wind is greatly reduced.
Not only does it improve the stability of the kayak on the rooftop, but it also helps increase the fuel mileage of your vehicle.
Saddle Kayak Carrier by Car Rack & Carriers is an ideal option for you if you want the best stability for your kayak while you’re on the road.
It is specifically the best choice for people who own a fairly large-sized kayak. It holds the kayak horizontally in place, which decreases the chances of your kayak falling off due to air pressure.
If stability is your primary concern, this is probably the best kayak carrier for you!
Alternatives: IKURAM Bilateral Kayak Carrier
The Ikuram Bilateral Kayak Carrier is a premium, multi-functional roof car rack that will meet all your adventure trip needs. In fact, it is one of the best kayak roof racks that you will find in the market today!
Made from a high-quality anodized aluminum alloy, this kayak roof carrier is highly durable. It is also incredibly light and rust-resistant, which means it will go a long way.
The Ikuram kayak roof carrier allows you to carry two standup paddleboards or kayaks at the same time. This is made possible by the multiple-position design along with acrylic fabric sleeves.
You can transform the J-style rack into any configuration you like to make the most of the roof space you have available. The J-style handles can be adjusted at different angles to accommodate varying sizes and shapes of kayaks without any hassle!
The saddles are made using thick, weather-resistant TopGuard rubber that offers maximum protection to your kayak.
The kayak is held tightly in place, and thus, any damage that can occur to the kayak due to rubbing with hard surfaces is prevented.
The Ikuram Bilateral Kayak Carrier comes with everything that you need to carry your kayak vertically; strong and padded saddles, bow tie-downs, and heavy-duty straps.
The J-style racks can fit any type of factory-installed cross rails; square, round, or oval, which makes its installation and mounting completely hassle-free!
Although this is one of the best kayak roof carriers available today, the most obvious drawback of this kayak roof carrier by Ikuram is its price.
It is a highly-priced, premium product that is not affordable for everyone.
Secondly, it needs to be assembled, which can be a lot of work. It comes as individual components that need to be assembled before you can install the carrier on your car’s roof.
The kayak roof carrier by Ikuram has a quick raise and folding design that allows you to either fold or raise the rack as per your needs and convenience without any trouble, using the front release handle.
Not only can it be adjusted to suit the size of the kayak you’re carrying, but it also enables you to make the most of your roof space.
It comes with built-in paddle holders that allow you to carry the paddles along with your kayak without the need for any additional straps or holders.
If you want to invest in a premium kayak rack for car that goes a long way, offers excellent functionality, and is highly versatile, the Ikuram Bilateral Kayak Carrier is the best option for you.
It will help you transport your kayak safe and sound over long distances!
Roof Kayak Mount FAQ
Can I Carry A Kayak On My Car?
You can most definitely carry a kayak on your car. It is not as difficult as you might think it is. All you need is a proper kayak carrier kit (with racks, straps, padded supports, etc.).
Do You Need a Roof Rack For a Kayak?
While foam blocks and ratchet straps can be used to secure a kayak on the rooftop of your vehicle, roof racks are a much better option.
Using roof racks to carry a kayak provides better stability of the kayak and better protection to the car and kayak’s surface from scratches and dents.
Numerous types of roof racks are available that can be used for different sizes and shapes of kayaks. Roof racks ensure that your kayak is held securely on the top of the car.
Can You Put 2 Kayaks On Top Of A Car?
Yes, you can put two kayaks on the top of a car. However, you can’t do this using a regular roof rack.
You will need bilateral or multi-functional roof racks to carry two kayaks on the car at the same time.
Can You Fit A Kayak In An SUV?
Yes. You can fit a kayak on the rooftop of your SUV. Most SUVs have side rails or racks on their rooftops.
There are numerous roof racks that can be attached to these side rails on the car top.
You can then easily carry your kayak on your SUV’s rooftop. However, if you wish to fit a kayak into an SUV, you will need a kayak that is fairly small in size.
How Do You Attach A Kayak To A Roof?
You need to have the correct type of roof rack to be able to attach your kayak efficiency to the top of your car’s roof.
There are numerous types of kayak racks, and the way your kayak attaches to it varies with the type you choose.
J-Style Kayak Racks
They allow your kayak to sit securely inside the J-shaped cradle.
Horizontal Kayak Racks
They hold the kayak horizontally on the car’s roof. These racks are present below the bottom of the kayak.
They provide the greatest stability and keep your kayak from slipping or falling due to the resistance from the air while you’re driving.
Lift-Assist Kayak Racks
These types of kayak racks assist in lifting the kayak on to the car’s roof. They extend down on to the side of the vehicle; thus, you don’t have to lift the entire weight of the kayak all the way up to the roof.
Vertical Kayak Rack
These racks hold the kayak vertically on the car’s roof. These are great if you wish to transport more than one kayak.
The invention of kayak roof racks has made kayaking a more doable weekending activity.
The rack you opt for completely depends on your preferences and factors like the size of your kayak, its weight, your car size, etc.
From this list, you can choose the best kayak roof rack for transporting your kayak safe and sound!